GOOD BOYS GET REWARDED

    Santa sucks.
    I know that sounds kind of harsh, and I apologize to any four-year olds that might be reading this, but obviously I was pretty darn disappointed.
    All I wanted for Christmas was a 60-inch high-definition plasma flat-screen TV, and the big, fat control freak let me down. Instead, I got a couple of shirts, a tie, and various other worthless commodities.
    Itís not right. I was good all year (at least relative to previous years) and I was denied. I didnít do anything wrong (at least relative to previous years) and my 60-inch flat screen was still just a dream.
    If pressed, I will admit itís not entirely Santaís fault. My wife has to take some responsibility for shattering my Christmas. Sheís the one who stubbornly insisted a 60-inch flat screen TV would look ridiculous in our little room off the kitchen, which is where we do our television viewing.
    Apparently, she thought sitting six feet away from a 60-inch screen is a problem. She likened it to sitting in the front row of a movie theater, which I admit is not ideal. But weíre talking flat-screen here, with high-def, and itís eye-level. You donít even have to look up.
    It all came to a head a few months ago. "If you want a high-definition flat screen TV so bad, why donít you get a 30-inch set," she asked in that innocent tone of hers. "That would be the perfect size for the room."
   She had no clue. Iíd spent the last year listening to various friends and brothers-in-law rave about watching sports on their new high-definition flat-screen TVís. And with the prices coming down rapidly, no one was buying anything less than 50 inches.
    "Why donít we just get a 19-inch and completely obliterate any trace of manhood I have remaining," I asked. "I could invite some friends over to watch the soaps."
    She didnít care. My insecurities didnít interest her. But expanding the little room off the kitchen did have some appeal. She had wanted to do it for years, and suddenly I was all for it.
   "Are you telling me that you would spend $100,000 to expand that room," she cried, "just so you could fit a 60-inch television into it?"
   Oh, yeah, baby. A man has to do what a man has to do. The Super Bowl, March Madness, Bonds breaking the home-run mark---I had to see it in high-def. Big 60-inch high-def, just a bit bigger than my insecure buddies.
   She wanted the room expanded for other reasons, none of which I understood. So with both of us firmly not understanding each other, we agreed to hire an architect.
   The plans were drawn and finished a couple of months ago. We were pretty darn excited, albeit for different reasons. We took them to show our next-door neighbor, who liked the plans. The only problem, he noted, was the recent survey he had done that showed we would be partially building on his property.
   Oops. But he was a man, divorced and living alone, and I was sure he would understand that I needed a 60-inch flat screen. Whatís the big deal about a little encroachment? We could get through this. It was a male bonding thing.
   Apparently, not all men think like I do. While I would have happily surrendered a few feet of land so that my fellow man could watch sports in 60-inch high def splendor, my neighbor was not so inclined.
   We were back to square one, which left me hoping for a miracle from Santa on Christmas morning. And when Santa dropped the ball, my wife, at the last minute, picked it up.
   While I was sulking in the corner on Monday, arms folded and head down, she was thankfully thinking of another way to get me my 60-incher. The living room, previously off-limits to television viewing, was suddenly an option.
   "You mean we can replace the fireplace with a flat-screen?" I asked excitedly when she tentatively broached the subject.
   "No," she replied, "but we might be able to reconfigure the bookcase and fit in a flat-screen. But a 60-inch still might be too big."
   First I thought about how sulking and whining could really pay dividends. Then I thought about two brothers-in-law and my good friend Dave, all of whom recently bought 50-inchers.
   "No problem," I said, graciously. "Iím sure someone makes a 51-incher."
 

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